Many of you have seen the signs at the 2016 Democratic Convention “Stop TPP”

Stop TPP 1Credit Scott Audette/Reuters

What is the TPP and Why do we need to Stop TPP?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is presented as a trade agreement involving 12 nations [United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand].  According to Pres. Obama the TPP is the most “progressive trade deal” in history – with strong consumer, labor and environmental protections built in;  however, when the public finally saw the details of the deal, Public Citizen, a nonprofit advocacy group  stated:

“The text shows that the TPP would offshore more American jobs, lower our wages, flood us with unsafe imported food and expose our laws to attack in foreign tribunals.”

VIDEO: Nobel Prize winner fact-checks the president on TPP

Back in 1905, philosopher Santayana wrote:  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”   The history of trade deals / organizations [ie. NAFTA, WTO] paints a bleak picture for the public — the offshoring of American jobs, the right of multinational corporations to sue governments for damages if a change in law or policy could be claimed to harm their investment [Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS], etc.  As such, a sovereign nation could pass laws to protect public health [ie. anti-smoking regulations] and its environment [ie. denying a mining permit or a moratorium on fracking] only to be challenged by corporate ISDS claims in front of an unaccountable tribunal which could override that country’s laws.

Under Nafta, Mexico Suffered, and the United States Felt Its Pain

On Jan. 1, 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade deal championed by President Bill Clinton went into effect. NAFTA was designed to break down trade barriers between the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico, eliminate tariffs, create jobs / a larger middle class in both the U.S. and Mexico.

What in fact happened under NAFTA was that heavily subsidized U.S. corn flooded the Mexican market, putting millions of farmers out of work. Multinational corporations opened up factories creating low-wage jobs at the expense of organized labor and the environment. This, in turn, drove waves of migration north.  Meanwhile, in the U.S., manufacturing jobs fell dramatically and organized labor lost even more clout.  The agreement protected corporate investors; everyone else was on his or her own.

Even more pernicious, a 2002 Bill Moyers Special on NAFTA – Trading Democracy reported:

Generally, it’s been understood that governments can do what they need to protect their people and their environment without having to pay if they diminish the value of property. But corporations are using NAFTA Chapter 11 to expand that and say governments do have to pay for every amount by which the value of their property is reduced. And one of the bases on which they’ve made that claim is the fact that NAFTA’s Chapter 11 uses this phrase “tantamount to expropriation.”  

Ultimately trade agreements such as NAFTA have become an end run around the Constitution and take a country’s sovereignty away.  TPP, often described as “NAFTA on steroids”,  is ultimately about expanding corporate rights and privileges — at the expense of consumer, health and environmental regulations.

Below are some inherent pitfalls in TPP:

Undermining Food Safety

The TPP would require us to import meat and poultry that does not meet U.S. safety standards. It would impose limits on food labeling.

Under the TPP, food labels could also be challenged as “trade barriers.” The TPP would impose limits on labels providing information on where a food product comes from. The TPP also would endanger labels identifying genetically modified foods and labels identifying how food was produced… Already under the WTO, the U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna fish label has been successfully challenged and Congress repealed our country-of-origin meat labels after the WTO authorized $1 billion in an sanctions from Mexico and Canada until the U.S. repealed the law.

Mystery Meat: After WTO Ruling, U.S. Tosses Meat Origin Labeling Law, Leaving Consumers in the Dark

LORI WALLACH: “…the same rules could mean that imports, …[from]  Vietnam [where] there’s a huge issue of farmed shrimp being farmed in pools that, among other things, are fertilized with human poop — and then lots of antibiotics are poured into the ponds before the harvest to deal with the diseases that come from the human waste. So we’ve got some really unsafe products. Right now we only inspect a small percentage. But we over-inspect for countries like Vietnam because we know there are big problems. One of the new rules …is [a corporation] can challenge the inspection, … Practically, what does it mean? The TPP could mean poisonous food, that you can’t label from what country it comes from, on your kids’ plates. It could mean major public health issues.

Bye Buy American & Jobs

The TPP would impose limits on how our elected officials can use tax dollars – banning Buy American or Buy Local preferences and offshoring our tax dollars to create jobs abroad.

More Job Offshoring, More Income Inequality

The TPP would incentivize offshoring American jobs to low-wage countries, and would also exacerbate U.S. income inequality. For proof of NAFTA’s broken promises see: Prosperity Undermined, a Public Citizen’s report on the  21-Year Record of Massive U.S. Trade Deficits,  Job Loss and Wage Suppression

Race to the bottom

More Power to Corporations to Attack Nations

Foreign corporations would be empowered to attack our health, environmental and other laws before foreign tribunals on the mere basis that their expectations were frustrated, and to demand taxpayer compensation for expected future profits.

The “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) claims would be decided by a tribunal made up of three lawyers who typically represent corporations.  As such, corporations can use ISDS claims to get around the environmental or labor rules enacted by a sovereign nation, undermining the legal /policy-setting ability of a democratically elected government. As stated in this Op-ed:

“Even the threat of a massive ISDS claim will often be enough to deter governments from introducing regulations to protect its citizens or the environment or even from enforcing existing regulations.”

We’ve Had Enough With Failed Trade Policies

Under these trade deals:

  • Germany is sued for going solar — When Germany decided to shift away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Swedish energy firm Vattenfall used a trade and investment treaty to seek  billions in compensatory damages from Germany.  Vattenfall claims that Germany’s decision to phase-out nuclear energy production violates its right as an investor in nuclear energy in Germany by diminishing its profits.
  • Pharmaceutical companies can delay the availability of price-lowering generic drugs in the United States and abroad  — The humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres – Doctors Without Borders – has warned that

    “the Trans Pacific Partnership [TPP] will go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to affordable medicines.”

  • Pres. Obama recently signed the Dark Act – Denying Americans the Right Know what’s in our food, striking down Vermont’s GMO labeling law.  In my opinion, he did so, to ensure that the US would be in compliance with future TPP regulations.

The video below shows why we must stop toxic trade deals

Bottom line:  Why Say No to the TPP? Corporations Already Have Too Much Power and with TPP, we are repeating and magnifying the destructive policies of NAFTA.

What can we do?

Check out the links below and use the information to contact your congressional representative urging them to vote “NO” on TPP, a corporate give away at the expense of American workers.  Please share this article with your friends and ask them to join you in opposing this toxic trade deal.